Pests

Feral Pig Control

The Problem

Feral Pigs were introduced into the Australian landscape via earlier settlers and have since caused an extensive amount of damage to environmental areas, and high quality agricultural land each year as a result of rooting, wallowing, grazing, trampling and predation. Feral Pigs are also carriers of weed seeds and have the ability to be potential carriers of, but to limited to the following diseases should they enter Australia; leptospirosis, foot and mouth and Q fever.

They prefer to inhabit areas that have a permanent water source as well as access to food and thick dense areas of vegetation for shelter making drainage lines such as creeks and rivers, wetlands, swamps and mangrove areas perfect pig habitat. These creatures are opportunistic, omnivores feeding on a variety of foodstuffs including; crops, roots, earthworms, frogs, insects, crabs and fruits.

Project Description and Project Partners

As a result of the extensive amount of damage caused by feral pigs Reef Catchments (Mackay Whitsunday Isaac) Limited in partnership with the Whitsunday and Mackay Regional Councils, Whitsunday Catchment Landcare Inc. and Sarina Landcare and Catchment Management Association Inc. under the direction of the Mackay Regional Pest Management Strategy 2011- 2014 developed a project proposal to facilitate the formation of feral pig control groups to create strategic control plans on a sub-catchment scale.

The aim of these plans is to promote the regeneration and recovery of high quality vegetation and nationally threaten ecological communities over 14000 hectares within in the Gregory River and Rocky Dam Creek Catchments. These plans will incorporate best management practice and humane animal control methods with a combination of the most appropriate on-ground control methods including; trapping, aerial control and ground baiting.

This project has been designed to be carried out over a 2 year period and was funded through the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country Program.

Site Background

This project is being carried out over two sub-catchments of the Mackay Whitsunday Catchment.

The Gregory River sub-catchment is located just north of Proserpine in the northern half of the Mackay Whitsunday Catchment. The Gregory River Catchment covers an area of 31 000 ha with the major landuses including; National Parks and Reserves, Grazing and Crop Land.

The Rocky Dam Creek sub-catchment is located just south of Sarina in the Southern half of the Mackay Whitsunday Catchment. The Rocky Dam Creek sub-catchment covers an area of 52 000 ha with the major landuses including; Wetland reserves, Grazing and Crop Land.

These sub-catchments contain a number of essential ecological communities that are impacted by Feral Pigs and are vital for the following endangered species; Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Swamp Rat (Rattus lutreolus), Pale Field Rat (Rattus tunneyi), Rufous Owl (Niox rufa), Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Little curlew (Numenius borealis), Northern Curlew (Numenius minutus), False Water Rat (Xeromys myoides), Great egret (Egretta alba), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis), Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) and Cattle egret (Ardeola ibis).

The Life of a Pig

Boars
Lifestyle: usually solitary
Home Range: 8- 50km
Weight: usually 80- 100 kg
Facts: Feral Pigs have different features to domestic pigs including: larger snouts and tusks; sparser, longer and coarser hair. Colours generally range from black to spotted black and white buff coloured.

Sows
Lifestyle: Family Group
Home Range: 2-20 km
Weight: usually 50-60 kg
Facts: Under good conditions (plenty of food and water) and with a 113 day gestation period sows can have 2 litters of 4 -10 pigs a year. Piglets are weaned after 2-3 months.

Piglets (Suckers)
Lifestyle: Family Group
Home Range: 2-20 km
Weight: 25kg at 6 months
Facts: After birth piglets spend the first 1-5 days inside the nest. They reach sexual maturity at 6 months of age. However piglet mortality can be high if the mother does not have access to a large amount of protein.

References

  • The State of Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation 2010, Feral Pig in Queensland, Fact sheet, viewed 14 march 2012, <http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/documents/Biosecurity_EnvironmentalPests/IPA-Feral-Pigs-Qld-PA6.pdf>
  • Queensland Government nd, Guideline for the management of feral pigs (Sus scrofa), viewed 14 March 2012, <http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/documents/Biosecurity_EnvironmentalPests/IPA-FeralPigs-guideline.pdf>
  • Drewry. J, Higham W, Mitchell. C 2008, Water Quality Improvement Plan: Final report for Mackay Whitsunday region, Macky Whitsunday Natural Resource Management Group
  • The State of Queensland, Department of Environment and Resource Management 2011, REED – Regional Ecosystem Description Database – Version 6.0b, viewed 15 May 2011, <http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/biodiversity/regional_ecosystems/how_to_download_redd.html>

How do I become involved?

If you wish to become involved in our feral pig program please contact us:

Key Contact

Peter_Muller_webPeter Muller
Reef Catchments (Mackay Whitsunday Isaac) Limited
P: (07) 4968 4234
M: 0437 640 186
E: Peter Muller

Further Information

Check out these websites for more information on feral pig control:

Feral Pig Fact Sheet
Australian Pest Animal Strategy

Images

Feral Pig

Feral Pig

Common Feral Pig Habitat

Common Feral Pig Habitat

Helicopter used for Feral Pig control.

Helicopter used for Feral Pig control.